Loyola students plan tailgate to protest Westboro Baptist Church visit
NEW ORLEANS – The Westboro Baptist Church has scheduled a full day of protests in New Orleans this week, and a group of local students are planning a counter protest.
The Kansas-based group plans to protest the National Alliance on Mental Illness conference beginning at 7:20 a.m. on June 28, according to the official “Westboro Baptist Church Picket Schedule.”
The group will then move on to picket outside a Jesuit mass at Loyola University at 9:00 a.m. before travelling to Herzing University in Kenner at 11:15 a.m.
At 4:45 p.m., Westboro protesters plan to converge once again at the Convention Center for the NAMI convention.
“Make no mistake friends – your ‘Live. Learn. Share hope’ mantra is death,” according to a Westboro press release about the NAMI conference. “More properly, this conference is to promote ‘Death. Ignorance. Despair.’”
As for Loyola, the group believes the school’s “religious and academic leaders are a pack of wolves.”
Among Loyola’s many sins, according to Westboro, are teachings that promote homosexuality, evolution, “popery,” the big bang, and free will.
Herzing University has drawn the group’s ire for less clear reasons, although a press release notes that Westboro has been to dozens of large university campuses “across this debauched nation.”
“The Westboro Baptist Church is best known for its inflammatory teachings against LGBTQ+ people and its pickets of military funerals. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the church, which has fewer than 100 members, to be a hate group,” Loyola Director of Public Safety Todd Warren said in a statement about the planned protest. “As a Catholic, Jesuit University, Loyola University New Orleans condemns any and all forms of hatred and bigotry. The safety and well-being of our community is always our primary concern, and while such events are generally managed without incident, both LUPD and NOPD will be present during the planned protest.”
Warren advised students against any counter protests, but a Facebook group called “Loyola Westboro Baptist Protest Tailgate” has been formed anyway.
Students are encouraged to join the tailgaters across St. Charles Avenue from Loyola to “blasting some tunes and also participating/discussing/supporting” the “sins” of the school listed on the Westboro press release.
“If you’re a fellow sinner and are willing to accept your fiery fate of damnation, COME ON DOWN!!!!” according to tailgate organizers. “The goal is to make this a cheerful celebration of equality, tolerance and personal freedom!”
The tailgate begins at 8:30 a.m.